Why shoot RAW by Joe Fitzpatrick

Peggy Farren 2012-10-24

Why shoot RAW? Almost all cameras offer you the option of capturing images in the JPEG format at several quality levels. DSLRs and advanced compact cameras also offer the option of using the camera makers RAW format.

The JPEG format has the advantage of small file size, allowing you to capture more images on a memory card. To do this the camera throws away picture information in a process called lossy compression. You read that correctly; the camera throws away information.

The RAW format results in a much larger file size but contains all the information recorded by the camera's sensor. With RAW you get the full range of tonal and color values and all the detail that you paid dearly for when you purchased your camera.


Shooting in RAW can help you bring back the blacks in your picture if it's a little underexposed.

The RAW format is especially helpful if your image is under or over exposed or contains very dark and very bright areas. While a JPEG throws away much of the information in the darkest and brightest parts of an image, a RAW file retains this information. Your image processing software can use this information to bring detail back in to over or underexposed images.

Saving images in the JPEG format is akin to reading every other page of a book. You will get the overall plot but miss many of the intricacies.

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